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No Laughing Matter: The Life & Times of Flann O’Brien

No Laughing Matter: The Life & Times of Flann O’Brien


‘Cronin, who knew O’Nolan, provides an insider’s look as well as a critical perspective on the conflicts of personality and politics that lay behind the masks, and shows how a culture not only feeds but can destroy an artist.’ – New York Times

‘An excellent book…It sends you back to reading the works of [Flann O’Brien] who rightly deserves to stand side by side with his sibling Sam Beckett and their parent James Joyce’. – Guardian

‘A fine piece of work and written with an intelligence and generosity for which, not only in Ireland, [Cronin] is admired.’ – Times Literary Supplement

‘Flann O’Brien is unquestionably a major author [and] Cronin could not write a dull line if he tried.’ – Anthony Burgess, Observer


First published in 1989 No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien was the first full-length biography of Flann O’Brien. Rich in background, anecdote and social history, it is an extraordinary portrait of a writer and his times, perceptive, sympathetic and authoritative.

Flann O’Brien (aka Brian O’Nolan) was born in Tyrone in 1911 and worked as a civil servant for many years. He also developed an alter ego, Myles na Gopaleen, whose saitrical column in The Irish Times soon acquired legendary status. At Swim-Two-Birds, his first novel, appeared in 1939 and was praised by James Joyce, Graham Greene, Dylan Thomas and others. His second novel, The Third Policeman, failed to find a publisher at the time but has since been acknowledged as one of the most important novels to come out of Ireland in the twentieth century.

With a foreword by acclaimed author Kevin Barry and striking redesign, No Laughing Matter is an undisputed classic of Irish literary biography.

Anthony Cronin was a poet, novelist and critic. Among his prose works are The Last Modernist (1996), a biography of Samuel Beckett, Dead as Doornails and The Life of Riley.


Anthony Cronin


C-format, Paperback





Release Date

March 2019

Additional Information

Weight .490 g
Dimensions .215 × .135 × .20 mm


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